Home > Uncategorized > BioEngineered Cyanobacteria Produce Twice As Much Hydrogen

BioEngineered Cyanobacteria Produce Twice As Much Hydrogen

Read the article by Rebecca Boyle from popsci here

Read the actual PNAS paper, Lubner, Applegate et al. 2011

Researchers led by Carolyn Lubner at Penn State worked with a cyanobacterium called Synechococcus and another bacterium, Clostridium acetobutylicum. In nature, photosynthetic organisms use light-capturing enzymes nicknamed Photosystem I and II, which absorb light and excite electrons to a higher energy state. Another enzyme called FNR then uses these electrons to produce an energy-storage molecule. This molecule is used to make sugars to keep the organism alive, and that’s your basic photosynthesis process.

Lubner et al replaced the FNR enzyme with a hydrogenase enzyme, which combines electrons with hydrogen ions to make molecular hydrogen (instead of a sugar-producing system). Then they used this enzyme to stitch together iron-based terminals of a Photosystem I enzyme from each of the bacteria. This stitch served as a molecular wire, easily and quickly transferring electrons. The researchers doped it with vitamin C, which served as the electron feedstock.

The result was a high-throughput hydrogen-producing system — electron flow was more than twice as high as the bacteria’s individual rates, the authors say. It produced hydrogen molecules for several hours, as long as it had vitamin C to use. The system is easily adaptable to other enzyme terminals and other bacteria, the authors say. As such, it could be used to produce a wide range of potential biofuels.”

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